What do I use as comps? Should I combine apartments?

Asked by cindylou, New York, NY Fri Jan 11, 2013

I'm thinking of selling my two apartments on the UWS - excellent location/unique space - lower 80's - top floor of small very well maintained 3 floor walk-up brownstone. Lots of light in both. Front and back apts. = full floor. Both apts. have working fireplaces. One has penthouse bedroom with 2 outdoor decks (decks approx. 400sq ft. & 90sq. ft.). Coop building w/pre-approval to combine. Both apartments are in good shape but need upgrades. Is there any real estate knowledge out there about selling separately or combined to get the best price? What do I use as comps?

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Rolando Fana’s answer
Rolando Fana, Agent, New York, NY
Sat Jan 19, 2013
Hello Cindy it’s nearly impossible to know the answer to this question unless a Licensed Real Estate Agent sits down with you and also looks at the property your selling. I think it’s best to hire a Licensed Real Estate Agent like me and I will make sure you will get top dollar. Give me a call or email and we will further discuss this matter.
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Jeremy Swill…, Agent, 10017, NY
Mon Aug 19, 2013
The rule of thumb is that it costs $220-$260 per square foot to renovate and combine a property. It seems like you have a wonderful and very unique property, so perhaps the post renovation will be attractive. What you need to really consider is how much more your monthly maintenance will increase by. When units are combine, the cost of maintenance is typically more than what you would pay for an similar size apartment in your building. This above market maintenance can be 20-30% more than the average. Another thing to consider is who the potential buyer would be post combination. If you will be living there yourself, great, but if you're combining it for the hopes of flipping it to someone else, there are a few things that must be considered. First and foremost, there is a good chance that someone looking to buy a 2-3 bedroom typically will have children. If your apartment is a 3rd floor walkup, people with children tend to not give consideration to walk up buildings. The thought of having to bring a children's stroller up and down 3 flights of stairs is very daunting and not attractive. So it really comes down to how many bedrooms you have now versus the potential combo design, while taking into consideration the final maintenance (combined unit's maintenance). Overall, the price per square foot post combination can potentially be 10-25% more than if sold separately. Full disclosure: I am a real estate agent and have gone through one personal renovation in the city and have represented a couple that purchased two units and have since combined. They are happy, but for resale value, the maintenance is going to be a tough sell. The average coop monthly maintenance charges averaged $1.74 per square foot, compared to condominium monthly common charges of $1.71, however for combined coop apartments, the average probable increases to $1.90 or more. Regarding outdoor space, if it is useable and depending on its attractiveness, many appraisers take approximately 50% of the exterior square footage and add it to the interior. I just happened to see this posting, so I realize it is a bit past due, but if you have any questions or concerns, please let me know (jswillinger@levelgroup.com). I hope I was somewhat helpful.
0 votes
Hi, thanks for the thoughtful response. We are moving forward with the renovation because of several reasons. First, we need the extra space for ourselves. Second, the rates to borrow money are so low that it makes sense. Third, the plan is to eventually sell and the reno that is taking place will vastly improve the space. The outdoor space is very nice. I met with four brokers prior to making the decision because I was also prepared to sell both places separately. While I did get similar thoughts as yours, once they saw the space saw the value in combination. The last 4 months have been spent getting permits - I could write a book! Also, while I understand that there are a lot of people who have children in NYC, there are plenty of couples who don't have kids - straight, LGBT and plenty of single people who are looking for more space. And technically, it's two flights of stairs once in the building :) Thank you again for taking time to respond. I'll keep your contact info!
Flag Tue Aug 20, 2013
Jaymes Grace, Agent, New York, NY
Sat Jan 19, 2013
Hi There Cindylou,

In my opinion, Christopher Pagli gave you the best advice in direct answer to your question. In regard to your response of not involving an agent because you don't "need" to sell but would for the right price - that kinda doesn't make any sense - and by "kinda", I mean actually!

You won't know what right $ you can possibly get until someone sits down with you and takes a look at all of this. And by someone, I mean a licensed real estate agent. You've put a lot of preliminary thought into this so I suggest you sit down with someone and get the answers that you need!

Otherwise ABC's Scandal is on tv Thursday nights at 10pm or you can watch online the following day! It's a drama, so it's going to continually leave you with more questions, but no more than just wondering out loud should I sell my two UWS apts!

Best and Good Luck,
0 votes
Your approach to my inquiry is interesting, in particular telling me I don't make sense. That's want I call a real sales technique. While I have already seen several brokers - all from this thread, I can assure you, you won't have to deal with my senseless questions. And to be clear, I don't watch Scandal, I prefer Revenge.
Flag Sun Jan 20, 2013
opondomusa, , 10020
Tue Jan 15, 2013
In the last quarter of 2012, the number of home sales in New York’s most glamorous borough increased by 40%, even though the number of homes to hit the market was declining the entire time. In fact, by New Year’s Eve, there were only about 6,500 homes for sale in Manhattan – the lowest total in more than seven years

So, will the momentum keep going into 2013?
According to real estate experts, absolutely! That low inventory is just what New York sellers need to increase their asking prices.

I am of the opinion that selling separately might get a better price but you need to get a good agent to help you figure out the details further
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Jenet Levy, Agent, New York, NY
Fri Jan 11, 2013
This is a lot to take on yourself. I would suggest you use a skilled, experienced agent to properly price your two units and show the best way to market them. There are a host of factors to consider when marketing two combinable units. You will do very well with these when priced properly and given the right marketing blitz.

Jenet Levy
Halstead Property, LLC
212 381-4268
0 votes
Jacques Ambr…, Agent, Forest Hills, NY
Fri Jan 11, 2013
In order to come up with the right way to go in marketing, I would do comps on the individual apartments, and a comparable sized apartment as a combined unit. This way you can add in the cost to combine(and effort) and determine with would be the best course of action.
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Elena Ravich,…, Agent, New York City, NY
Fri Jan 11, 2013
you definitely need to work with an experienced agent to do the analysis for you and come up with a plan. This should not prevent you from doing your own home work and, after interviewing several agents, you will have a better idea who has a good understanding of the local market and trends. From what I've seen, apartments like that are listed as both, separate units and a combined apartment. There are many listings like that and you can see what interest and offers you can get for each option. It helps that you have board pre-approval already. I work on UWS and I would be happy to assist.
Elena Ravich
Rakita Realty
646 593 7207
0 votes
Marilyn Flem…, Agent, NY,
Fri Jan 11, 2013
Best thing is to offer it both ways.. separate apartments at a price for each and then a price combined.. The alteration to combine will cost the buyer more ..but the value of the apartment combined will be greater. Test the waters. As an Executive V.P of Halstead with 18 years of experience If you need any help. Just call.... Marilyn Fleming 917-544-3621
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Janet Nation,…, Agent, Baldwin, NY
Fri Jan 11, 2013
Cindylou not a good idea to play with your assets, hire a professional; penny wise pound foolish :-)
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Fajardo Dela…, Agent, Flushing, NY
Fri Jan 11, 2013
I would love to have more Homes in my inventory for sale. I just
need a few seconds to sit with you and discuses a plan that will
work for both of us. Please just give me a call as soon as you can.

Licensed Real Estate Agent
Century Homes Realty Group llc
Direct Line: 347-932-0609
0 votes
Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Fri Jan 11, 2013
Consider contacting and inviting a few agents from different realty companies and ask for a cma, comparative mrket analysis; review the data, ask opinions, etc., then decide to combine, or not.
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Love Where Y…, Agent, New York, NY
Fri Jan 11, 2013
I would list the apartments both separately and as a combo unit. Put some feelers out there and see what kind of interest you can muster up. AND feel free to contact me :). I specialize on the Upper West Side, and work primarily with brownstones and townhouses.

I have some flexibility. Please see my testimonial page below.

Mike Mishkin
Founder/Broker - Love Where You Live Realty
0 votes
cindylou, Home Seller, New York, NY
Fri Jan 11, 2013
Thanks Charlie, Christopher and James. Great responses. Only 8 units, none for sale or that sold in a recent enough market. My only hesitation with involving a broker (which I realize will answer a lot of questions) is that I don't need to sell, but would for the right $. Don't want to waste anyones time or feel obligated. And, how does one calculate the value of outdoor space?
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Charlie Summ…, Agent, New York, NY
Fri Jan 11, 2013
Hi Cindylou, your units sound very desireable. There is a lot of demand for larger apartments in most areas of Manhattan these days so I would hazard a guess that it might make sense to combine but to get a handle on the maker value separately or combined I would first look to recent sales of similar units in the area (make sure you look primarily at walk up buildings and simar condition an square footage in your searching). Also look at other units in the area that have the size and features the your combination would provide to determine whether there is a synergy in combining.i'm available by phone or email if you'd like more detailed help in assessing the possibilities. Best, Charlie Summers, SVP Bellmarc 917-376-1648 or csummers@bellmarc.com
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Christopher…, Agent, Tarrytown, NY
Fri Jan 11, 2013
The best way to get comps in NYC is use other apts that sold in the same line of a building, if not the rest of the building. Otherwise you will have to find them around the general area. If you combine the apts you may make it so unique that it would be even harder to compare one day. I would have an agent come in an physically walk through with you to determine what would be best.


0 votes
James Furlong, Agent, Brookline, MA
Fri Jan 11, 2013
Your very best approach is to engage the services of an experienced and knowledgeable local real estate professional. They will know exactly what should be done and will do it for you.
0 votes
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